Corporate plan 2016-17

I Natalie James, as the accountable authority of the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO), present the 2016 FWO Corporate Plan, which covers the periods of 2016-17 to 2019-20, as required under paragraph 35(1)(b) of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013. This plan sets the strategic direction for the FWO and aligns with the FWO’s Strategic Intent.

Our purpose

The FWO is the Australian Government agency responsible for ensuring compliance with workplace relations laws through advice, education and where necessary enforcement.

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Our vision

To be valued by the community for supporting compliant, productive and inclusive workplaces.

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Our setting

The FWO works to achieve its purpose in a diverse and changing environment. The FWO engages with employers, employees, their representatives, community organisations and other stakeholders to support compliant, productive and inclusive Australian workplaces. FWO also looks to work across Government, to leverage all of the Government’s programs and laws to build compliance throughout Australia.

The FWO will provide education and assistance to support businesses to meet regulatory requirements and improve employment practices. The information provided can be complex and the FWO seeks to provide it in a way that can be easily understood and applied. By understanding workplace laws and implementing effective employment practices, businesses will be able to make informed decisions and be better equipped to respond to challenges. This will help businesses focus on being successful, creating jobs and contributing to Australia’s economic and social wellbeing. The FWO will engage purposefully with businesses to reduce the burden and costs associated with regulatory compliance.

Unlawful employment practices impose significant costs on individuals and the community. These behaviours create barriers to workforce participation, weaken the integrity of the workplace relations system, distort the labour market and undermine the principles of fair competition. The FWO will support vulnerable workplace participants to address the barriers to achieving compliance. Our approach to addressing non-compliance will see proportionate and appropriate use of enforcement tools. We will reinforce accountability within business’ supply chains and networks, encouraging them to take responsibility to prevent potential exploitation of vulnerable segments of the workforce, including migrant workers.

Changes in the external environment have the potential to impact the work of the FWO and may include changes to budget, legislation, industrial instruments and case law. The FWO will respond quickly to changes in the external environment and will provide advice to inquiries or reviews that have the potential to impact our work. The FWO is committed to building the agility of our people and the organisation to ensure we are responsive to emerging developments.

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Our approach

The FWO will take an innovative approach to achieving maximum impact within our allocated budget by:

  • embracing the latest technology and communication practices to deliver self-service resources allowing easy and timely access to information
  • targeting compliance activities where they have the greatest impact and for those who are most vulnerable
  • using data and intelligence to identify, inform the public on and address new and emerging areas of non-compliance
  • engaging with diverse community networks and intermediaries to design and deliver effective compliance advice and services
  • developing tailored, accessible and reliable services to meet the needs and demands of the community
  • using all forms of media to engage and inform target audiences about compliance with workplace laws as well as the potential consequences of not complying.

The FWO has established a Risk Management Framework modelled on the Commonwealth Risk Management Policy that complies with all mandatory elements of the policy.

The FWO promotes a positive approach to risk, placing a priority on managing risks strategically and systematically.  We seek to apply a consistent approach through all levels of the organisation and integrate risk management into our daily activities.

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The FWO will prioritise cohorts that evidence tells us need the most help to understand and apply workplace laws. We will also focus on systemic non-compliance which is significantly impacting vulnerable individuals and/or a significant sector of the labour market. This includes supporting small business to comply and focussing on vulnerable cohorts, in particular, migrant workers and businesses and young workers. Industries or subsectors with high levels of non-compliance such as hospitality, retail, cleaning, security and trolley collecting will also be prioritised.

Provide practical workplace relations advice that’s easy to access, understand and apply

  • Make compliance easy, and equip employees and employers (especially small business employers) to make good choices in their workplaces, by providing advice through the Fair Work Infoline, Small Business Helpline, website, increasing use of our authenticated online channel, ‘My Account’, social media and in the field
  • Assist customers take control through adopting a principles based approach to assessing and delivering our services
  • Increase our reach and impact throughout the community, but focussing on key customer segments that most need assistance to achieve compliance with workplace laws
  • Provide resources to help workplaces implement best practice, including online learning courses, best practice guides, templates and pay calculators
  • Foster inclusive workplaces based on the principles of diversity, fairness, dignity and respect, to help reduce barriers to participation.

Encourage and empower employees and employers to resolve issues in their workplace

  • Deliver impartial dispute resolution services to help people solve problems early and quickly, in a manner that is appropriate for their workplace and retain positive workplace relationships
  • Share and support people to use FWO’s knowledge and transparently engage with workplace participants and practitioners about FWO’s position on the law
  • Build the skills of employees and employers to positively engage with one another, address issues with minimal intervention and get on with their core business
  • Encourage and support business to self monitor and self regulate their supply chains and operations, including through entering into partnership agreements with us
  • Measure the impact of our interactions with customers and use this information to improve services
  • Work closely with community leaders, business and workers and reach out in their own language and in culturally relevant ways.

Build a culture of compliance with workplace laws

  • Engage the community about compliance with workplace laws and the need for key players to share responsibility for ensuring supply chains, networks and sectors of the labour market are compliant
  • Inform the market of emerging trends and behaviours with respect to compliance with workplace laws, the impact of those trends and behaviours, and what FWO is doing to address them via strategic public engagement, Campaigns and Inquiries and our enforcement work
  • Support and protect those who are being exploited to come forward and ensure appropriate compliance action is taken
  • Better engage migrant workers, employers and their communities to make it clear that minimum entitlements are not negotiable
  • Take reasonable and appropriate enforcement action, where people deliberately and/or repeatedly do the wrong thing, including enforceable undertakings, letters of caution, infringement/compliance notices and litigation
  • Pursue the full range of remedies under all available laws
  • Influence changes to the regulatory framework, informed by our experience and information where it is in the public interest to do so
  • Direct our activities based on evidence and intelligence to have the greatest impact
  • Understand and develop solutions to address structural and behavioural drivers that lead to widespread non-compliance, including by taking appropriate enforcement action in cases of serious non-compliance
  • Apply our Compliance and Enforcement Policy consistently and transparently.

Work with stakeholders to find solutions to workplace issues and opportunities to collaborate

  • Identify partners who can help us design and deliver programs that will build a culture of compliance with workplace laws
  • Build relationships with stakeholders and the community based on trust and respect
  • Support trusted and reliable advisers who assist FWO achieve our goals
  • Work with culturally and linguistically diverse community networks and intermediaries
  • Engage relevant stakeholders and communities in our work, consider their views and identify opportunities to collaborate, co-design and inform and influence government policy
  • Connect services across government to make compliance easier for the community
  • Inform policy and stakeholders to achieve better regulatory outcomes.

Be a high performing, capable and responsive agency that delivers exceptional customer service and manages risk well

  • Invest in the right capability development for our people to maximise performance and build capability   
  • Support the health and wellbeing of our people
  • Foster an inclusive, high performing, innovative workplace culture that learns from experience
  • Demonstrate our commitment to Australian Public Service values
  • Collaborate to achieve the best outcomes
  • Operate within budget and a sound corporate governance framework, to ensure expenditure of public money is ethical, efficient and effective
  • Leverage and integrate information communication technologies to transform services and better understand our customers to be more efficient and effective
  • Improve services and efficiency through innovation
  • Maintain governance arrangements that are fit for purpose and enable us to meet our obligations
  • Support all staff and leaders to engage deliberately and positively with risk to deliver maximum benefits from opportunities and challenges
  • Incorporate a risk based approach into our business planning and reporting processes
  • Create integrated system solutions to maximise efficiency and enhance our knowledge of our customers.

Measuring our success

  • The FWO manages requests for assistance in a timely manner
  • The FWO provides information and advice that is accessible, timely and reliable
    • 99% availability for website services and of advertised contact centre hours
    • requests for assistance involving a workplace dispute are finalised in an average of 30 days
  • The FWO takes a risk based and proportionate approach to its compliance and enforcement activities
    • at least 90% of requests for assistance involving a workplace dispute are finalised through education and dispute resolution services
    • no more than 10% of requests for assistance involving a workplace dispute are finalised through compliance and enforcement tools
  • The FWO has a positive impact on sectors/regions or issues of importance to the community.

The FWO will report on these measures annually. 

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